There’s always been a certain amount of cheating on the third mate and 3 a/e exam primarily because the uscg allows the schools to administer the exams on campus (rather than at the REC) with very little uscg uniformed oversight.
But I recently heard from a friend who is an operational manager at a shipping company who claims that, while the majority of new chief mates and masters (and 1 a/e and chiefs) are solid he is getting a small number of who are great at bullshiting their way through interviews but ultimately “have a low IQ”.
This led him to think that these individuals must have cheated on the exam. So he interviewed a bunch of junior officers and found out a few of these individuals have bragged about how easy it is to cheat your way to master unlimited.
He is still not sure how they are doing it but is convinced that “if the uscg doesn’t lock this exam down then people are going to get killed”.